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The scene: A packed bar-only area glowing in the aftermath of 2-4-1 cocktails (Mon-Fri, 5pm-8pm), a seating area that is a coffee shop counter by day and then an expansive dining area – this place isn’t mucking about.

Despite its size, it’s anything but sparse, with a warmth to the decor courtesy of natural timber and weathered (super-comfy) leather couches – there’s a refreshing lack of stainless steel – and bijou details. Is it a bar or a restaurant? It’s both or either – take your pick.

The grub Personal preference decides if the menu’s diverse and intriguing or too trendy and overstretched. There are substantial mains (shame the ‘medium rare’ lamb rump I ordered came without a hint of pink), burgers and chic salads (dishes that won’t make you fat have tape measures pictured next to them), small plates, sandwiches and five types of tattie sides. The stars for those tucking into cocktails are the flatbread sharing boards – basically super light, flavour-packed pizzas.  

Behind the bar An extensive cocktail list with people who know how to execute them. The BBQ whisky sour (comes with bacon) and bloody caesar (a spicy delight with a big king prawn on it) are winners. Wines are divided by palate profiles.

Bill please Small plates from £5.95, flatbread boards from £8.95, mains from £8.95, burgers from £7.95. More than 40 wines from £3.75/ £13.95 a glass/ bottle. 

Verdict Muddled or magical, confusing or celebratory. Worth deciding for yourself. 

No.1a Ludgate Hill, EC4M 7AA  
thehappenstancebar.co.uk  
Tube | Mansion House


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The Happenstance - review: Bar and restaurant on Ludgate Hill, Mansion House
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